by Marion Nestle
Aug 1 2012

Growing the food movement: lists of advocacy groups

Whenever I give a talk, someone in the audience invariably asks how to get involved in food advocacy.  My suggestion is usually to go online and look for local groups working on issues of interest or, if lucky enough to have a nearby Edible magazine, read the ads.

These are still useful starting points and I list them and others in the FAQ section on this site (questions 3 and 4).

More recently, I’ve been asked a more complicated question: Why don’t all those organizations get together?  If they did, they would form a major political force. 

Vivian Wang, an undergraduate at NYU, asked that very question after one of my talks.  She volunteered to start doing some preliminary work by attempting to identify local and national food advocacy groups.

It didn’t take her long to discover the enormity of that task. 

Nevertheless, she created spreadsheet of the groups she was able to find.  She organized her findings by the tabs at the bottom, which she named:

  • Long Lists: These are groups with websites that provide information about resources including many other advocacy groups.
  • NYC-based: Groups in New York City.  These are also given on different spreadsheets in the other categories
  • Advocacy
  • Agriculture
  • Education
  • Hunger
  • Local Food
  • Organic Food
  • Urban Farming
  • NYU-based: food and nutrition clubs at New York University

Readers: please take a look at these lists.  Feel free to use them.

How can such lists best be used to help create coalitions willing to work toward common goals? 

Suggestions are most welcome.   

  • Our organization is a food justice, global hunger and animal advocacy organization. Working to end hunger and animal exploitation at the same time. We can feed people and save animals by incorporating more plant based foods into our diet. I hope we can be added to the list.

  • Sophia Katt

    Coordinate all the lists with the National Good Food Network, a project of the Wallace Center at Winrock Int’l:

  • FarmerJane

    Thanks for the great list, Ms. Wang. One thought that I had as an average dairy farmer of the Northeast would be to develop a mailing to these groups to tell them a little bit about the dairy farmers of the Northeast and what we are trying to do. We did have good contact with Brooklyn Food Coalition in 2010 (the ONLY consumer group to have a member travel from NYC to Batavia, NY for the dairy antitrust hearings to sit in and listen and later write on a food blog called Other technie non-farmers came from the NYC area and set up a live tweet stream for us so that dairy farmers from all over the country could follow along. (precedent-setting and we could not have done this ourselves). This list might provide the basis for some real communications between regular NY dairy farmers and NYC. Since we can’t sell direct without a SWAT team kicking our doors down, this might be the way to go!

  • A really interesting list. I’m betting one of my students would be interested in exploring this for Los Angeles. Maybe others folks in other cities/regions do something similar. Of course it would be great if those other city lists could be merged. Any way to keep this list up-to-date and open for others to expand upon?

  • Ryan K

    Terrific–I’ve made this into a Google Spreadsheet so that it needn’t be downloaded to be viewed. A next step could be to give editorial control to a moderator (Ms. Wang), or perhaps open it up to public editing?

  • There are a number of coalitions that bring these organizations together already, my own included. We consider ourselves “weaver” organizations – our sole purpose is to build bridges between folks working in similar areas. Here are a few like us that come to mind:
    Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
    New England Farmers Union
    National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
    Food Solutions New England

    and a few that you have already listed that fit the bill as coalitions include the Food Systems Network NYC and the Community Food Security Coalition.

  • Joel

    Comic Sans again? Seriously what is with this shit!

  • CLUCK: Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub
    Canada’s Largest Right to Food & Food Justice Advocacy/Activist Network.

    Household Food Security, Local Food Systems, Community Food Systems, Ethical & Compassionate Animal Care, Pets with Benefits, Right to Food.

  • It’s a good start, but would be helpful to put the list into a Google spreadsheet w/ broad permissions to modify. Also I have been thinking, in light of the Affordable Care Act and the opportunities for innovation in preventive care, that there should be more collaboration between health and food advocates. So I would include organizations like Health Care for All in this list.

  • For “All those organizations to get together” I think you would need first to write down a platform of what they want to achieve, what policies they want to be enacted (at various levels, local, state, federal, international). It can be a limited number of things.
    As for the organizing itself, finding adresses,contacts, you could have an “umbrella directory” where people/organizations could register (maybe with 2 “sponsors”?): this site would aggregate all the data and make them available.
    In the tobacco control movement this was achieved at the beginning by the Globalink website that had been started by the Advocacy Institute then given to the International Union Against Cancer to manage. It was basically a super-listserve with various sub-lists and -of course- a detailed directory.
    Seems to me such a clearinghouse could be produced by but it would maybe require they open their governance beyond RWJF.
    You have to “crowdsource” the content but that should not be too hard…

  • you can start aggregating such groups via one campaign, for instance, supporting the request for a Surgeon General’s Report about sugary beverages… but maybe this would be too narrow for all the groups to take part. Therefore the need for a basic, larger, list of “political goals”… If you look again at tobacco control, there was regulating advertising, promoting smoke-free environments, helping people quit, health warnings on the packs, fighting the undue influence of the industry, increased taxes, etc.

  • Maybe Marion could write down a list of common goals?

  • Rachel Kahn-Troster

    I’d like to see more of a voice for farmworkers (groups like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, the Fair Food Standards Council, and their allies) and other food chain workers like the members of the Food Chain Workers Alliance. We cannot have a food movement without the people who grow, package, and serve our food.

  • Thank you for posing the question on your blog about ways in which we can continue to get food policy advocates together. This is something that I have been thinking about since becoming involved with food policy in 2008.

    I direct the Harvard Food Law and Policy clinic, and this past spring my students and I launched a “Food Law and Policy Career Guide” that lists over 150 food advocacy groups. The guide presents those interested in food law and policy (with a focus towards law students/lawyers) with information to pursue volunteer, intern, and career opportunities in the field. This resource is hopefully helpful to creating a more comprehensive list of organizations involved in food policy and advocacy. It is divided up into the following sections: universities, government agencies, non-government organizations & research institutes, international organizations & agencies, fellowship & grant-giving organizations, law firms, and food listservs.

    The guide can be found online at

    As always, thank you for continuing to be an inspiration in the food policy field!

  • Teiji

    This spreadsheet is amazing, and only makes me want to see ones for other major cities. I live near the Washington, DC metro area- anybody have any good resources for someone interested in that area?

  • One was forgotten…City Harvest. One of the first Food Rescue programs in the city.

  • cheryl bray

    Amassing this list is the most critical task the food movement could possibly accomplish. I’ve thought for a long while that someone with the proper credentials, apply for a grant to amass just this sort of list… It would be so powerful. Clearly each group has different goals and priorities. However, there are enough unifying themes to effect real change if we unite. It’s just a massive task to take on without compensation. For any database to be meaningful, it must be constantly updated.

    BTW…This is exactly what Ralph Reed does with the Christian Coalition (now another name that i forget)…He has some stealth backing to amass his advocacy list. And they are incredibly successful….The food movement needs similar financial backing, and organization….likely from a foundation with similar goals.

  • Speaking as a farmer here. A middle size farm of about 320 acres. Some commodity corn and soybean. But mostly organic hay, rotational grazed cattle, free range poultry, and organic fruit and veggies. I.e. on old style family farm in the middle of the prairie.

    There’s a lot of folks seems to be earning a comfortable salary and good life talking about and advocating for healthy food. That’s good- but it starts to look like there are more people advocating than, well, farming.

    I’m all for your local, grassroots, hoes in the ground, hair net over canning jars kinda work and effort. And the associations that help us do that. May seem simplistic, but that’s where the change I see comes from- local. The larger and more removed a group gets, the more it seems to suck the resources from the periphery. And we farm on the periphery.

  • James

    What are some activist groups i can get involved in with pushing healthy eating world wide?